Thursday, 4 February 2016
Tips for Dentists to Ensure Patients Attend Routine Appointments
Over the years, I think one of the hardest things I have had to face daily is getting my patients back through the door for their routine appointments. Depending on their current oral health oral health, routine appointments can be set anything from six months to a year or more.
Speaking to my patients, I have identified that those who don't have pain and feel that they don't have issues tend to cancel or postpone their appointments, because they don’t' see the reasoning behind visiting the dentist if there is nothing wrong.
Becoming aware of these obstacles and me knowing how important routine appointments are, I started focusing on certain factors to get my patients to remember and attend their appointments without hassle or fuss.
As a dental professional, my passion is ensuring each and every one of my patients has the best dental care and the only way I can provide this is to educate them and ensure that they attend their appointments, which is why I introduced the four point plan into my surgery, which includes:
In most instances send out reminders for examinations by post or text message. We never book a routine dental check up for six months or twelve months time. Chances are that patients are going to lose their appointment cards and have no idea when their next appointment is.
We provide our patients with a reminder SMS, usually three days before their appointment date or time. This improves our productivity as well, in the event a patient isn't going to attend, they can cancel, which enables us to take on another patient in that time slot.
Use the clients preferred communication methods
Not all patients will enjoy receiving a text message or a phone call while they are busy at work. We provide our patients with three communication options to choose from; email, call or text message. Ensure you only use this method to reduce the risk of upsetting your patient, which could very well result in them cancelling their appointment.
Provide reminders in a number of languages
Don't only offer your reminder service in English. Some of your patients may have a different first language and may not understand your message unless it is in their home language. To reduce the risk of a patient missing their appointment because they didn't understand you, consider offering the reminder in a choice of languages.
Educate the importance
I take the opportunity at the end of every consultation to educate my patients on the importance of routine appointments. If they understand why we have these appointments, they are more likely to attend moving forward.
About Tariq Drabu
Tariq Drabu is a leading dentist and specialist oral surgeon. This Manchester born and educated dentist was one of the youngest dentists to graduate in the United Kingdom. He has worked at some of the busiest hospitals in the UK and Saudi Arabia and completed his Fellowship in Dental Surgery from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. He is the owner of the very successful Langley Dental Practice and is also the Clinical Lead Dentist for the Oral Surgery Clinical Assessment and Treatment Services at NHS Heywood Middleton and Rochdale. Tariq Drabu also teaches and mentors postgraduate dentists in oral surgery at the UCLAN Dental Clinic in Preston.